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Insecure contracts

7 March 2007

Some of the most vulnerable people working in education are those on fixed-term contracts or who work part-time or are paid by the hour, often on zero-hour contracts.

With their local knowledge UCU branches can advise members as to what treatment they should expect in comparison to full-time permanent staff, and can help them follow this up if you feel you are being treated badly. Members paid by the hour, particularly those on zero-hours contracts, are especially vulnerable to poorer terms and conditions.

Although legislation now offers more protection, fixed-term staff are still at risk of being treated unfairly. One of the most difficult times can be when your fixed-term contract is coming to an end. If you are in this situation, we can make sure you know what your employer's obligations are. These depend upon the nature of your particular contract within your particular institution: when it was signed, what clauses it contains, whether it has previously been renewed - all of which affect your legal entitlements.

So if a problem arises, please contact your branch/local association or regional official who will be able to advise and if necessary represent you.

Whatever type of contract you are on, you may have concerns or queries about specific clauses in your contract, or how your contract ties in with national and local aspects such as leave entitlements or access to staff development schemes. Again, your branch is best placed to advise you on the specifics in the context of your institution, and if necessary can help to negotiate improved terms.

Important Before taking any action you should talk to your branch or local association. It's likely that there will be other UCU members in the same position and your branch will be able to provide you with local information and any support and advice that you may need.

Last updated: 26 April 2021